The History of Vacheron Constantin

One of the great watchmakers in the Swiss watch industry , Vacheron Constantin has a history spanning over 250 years, making it one of the oldest continuously operating watchmakers .

The company is currently part of the Richemont Group and still has workshops in Geneva and Vallée de Joux.

Vacheron is known for its intricately decorated, top-notch luxury watches and its Maltese cross design adorning the crown.

Harry Truman, Napoleon Bonaparte, the Duke of Windsor and Pope Pius XI all wore Vacheron It is said that he owned

18th century

Jean - Marc Vacheron ( 1731-1805 ) was a master watchmaker and enthusiastic horologist who opened his workshop in Geneva in 1755 .

Jean-Marc Vacheron

His first notable creation was a silver watch with a movement firmly fixed in a silver case. 

Jean - Marc created his first complicated watch in 1770, and in 1779 he produced the first engine tuning dial, a technique that was to become popular among many watchmakers. 

In 1785 , Jean - Marc's son Abraham took over the business, which remained in operation throughout the decade of the French Revolution, from 1789 to 1799 .

Nineteenth century

Jean - Marc died in 1810 and his grandson Jacques-Barthélémy took over as president and expanded the business by starting to export to France and Italy. 

In 1812 , the company introduced its first quarter repeater watch.

The enamelled dial was engraved with "Vacheron Chaussat & Comp A Genève", with blued steel serpentine hands and a French Empire-style yellow gold case with lavish decorative engravings.

In 1819 , Jacques - Barthélemy had to close his watch business and needed to travel abroad to sell his watches, so he partnered with François Constantin (b. 1788-d. 1854), a visionary business strategist .

During this period the company name became "Vacheron & Constantin".

Constantin's talent for marketing and selling watches abroad led to the brand's watches being distributed around the world, including a strong trade relationship with the United States. 

The 1831 pocket watch was highly ornate, with a yellow gold caseback decorated with colorful enamel designs and beautiful engravings, and an enameled dial with gold hands.

In 1839 , the company hired the inventor and watchmaker Georges - Auguste Leschot to develop the machine tools needed to manufacture ébauches.

Having worked for many years on designing a lever escapement that could be manufactured using machines, as required for mass production, Leschot soon became head of production and technical director, and by 1842 Vacheron & Constantin was the first manufacturer of modern industrial watches in Switzerland. 

In 1845 , the company was selling its own escapements and ébauches to other watchmakers. 

Leschot was also the inventor of the "pantograph" machine, which allowed the mechanical reproduction of various watch components by using machines to engrave dials and other small watch parts, thus starting the wave of industrialization in watchmaking. 

Leschot was awarded the gold medal by the Society of Arts of Geneva in 1844 , which helped to dramatically increase Vacheron's reputation and prestige.

François died in 1854 , followed by Jacques-Barthéleme Vacheron in 1863 .

In 1862 , Vacheron, showing a strong interest in scientific progress, joined the Society for the Research of Antimagnetic Materials. 

Antimagnetic watches have become essential accessories for research scientists and laboratory technicians who work in or near magnetic fields. 

In the late 1860s , the company was technically controlled by someone from either the Constantin or Vacheron family. The name has changed three times at the whims of two different families .

The Maltese cross symbol, which is still used today, began to be used in 1880 and was patented in 1890 .

Its meaning has intrigued many collectors, but it actually comes from a cross-shaped watch component designed to control the tension of the mainspring. 

In 1885 , the company produced the first antimagnetic watch, made with palladium, gold and bronze components.

In 1887 , the name "Vacheron & Constantin" was established by legal charter. 

It was subsequently reorganized as a joint stock company after winning a gold medal at the Swiss National Exhibition in Geneva.

20th century

In 1906, the brand's first boutique opened in Geneva, on the Quai de la Reyes, where it is still located today.

Vacheron Boutique

In 1935 , Vacheron was commissioned by King Farouk of Egypt to create the most complicated pocket watch in five years.

In 1936 , as the Great Depression began to affect the company , Charles Constantin became the first member of the Constantin family to become president since the 1850s, but two years later the company was acquired by the Jaeger-LeCoultre family, run by the SAPIC holding company , and Georges Ketter became director.

In 1940 , Ketter purchased the majority of the shares from Charles, bringing to an end 119 years of family ownership of the Constantin company.

Ketter's leadership helped the company maintain sufficient revenue to survive through the war until the start of World War II. 

To celebrate the end of the war in 1945 , Vacheron produced a pink gold pocket watch with a tourbillon regulator visible through a circular window in the caseback.

It features a sunray design around its 19 jewels and a window through which the rhodium-plated movement can be observed .

In 1955 , Vacheron & Constantin celebrated its 200th anniversary by presenting the thinnest movement ever, measuring just 1.64 mm thick .

During a summit in Geneva between four heads of state – President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Edgar Faure, Nikolai Bulgarin and Sir Anthony Eden – a group of Swiss officials commissions Vacheron to create four special watches as gifts for each of them.

When Ketter died in 1969, his son Jacques carried on the business, even as it took on the quartz movement revolution that began in Japan.

In 1970, the & was dropped from the company name and it became "Vacheron Constantin".

In 1979 , they introduced the Calista, one of the most expensive and complicated watches in the world .

The Calista took Vacheron's top watchmakers 6,000 hours to create and a further 20 months to embellish with 118 of the finest emerald-cut diamonds. Originally asked for a staggering $5 million, the watch is now going for a staggering $ 11 million.

Jack passed away in 1987 and Vacheron became majority owned by watch enthusiast Ahmad Zaki Yamani (a former Saudi Arabian Minister of Oil and with a Harvard MBA), at which point the company became part of Investcorp. 

In 1994, Vacheron released a limited edition Mercator model to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the birth of mathematician, geographer, and cartographer Gerardus Mercator.

In 1996, the Richemont Group purchased Vacheron's share capital, which it still owns today.

21st Century

As we enter the 21st century, the emphasis shifts to more contemporary and modern design.

The Patrimony series celebrates Vacheron's third century of watchmaking and is the world's thinnest mechanical watch, measuring just 5.25 mm thick.


In 2003 , the brand launched its sports line, Overseas, and its first women's-only collection, called Égérie.

In 2004 , the company moved its production and headquarters to a newly renovated site in Plan les Ouates, Geneva, which now includes a master watchmaker workshop and a renowned luxury boutique.

In 2005, Vacheron Constantin celebrated its 250th anniversary with the launch of a commemorative model called Tour de L'Isle.

Tour de l'Ile is the most complicated double-sided watch ever made, with an astronomical dial, 16 complications and 834 components that took our engineers more than 10,000 hours of development and research.

So far they have produced seven watches, each selling for around $ 1 million.

The Saint-Gervais is equipped with a tourbillon and perpetual calendar, and has a power reserve of over 10 days.

The calibre 2250 movement has four barrels and boasts an incredible 250- hour power reserve, and 55 pieces were produced.

In October 2005, Juan Carlos Torres became CEO of the Richemont Group.

The Métiers d'Art “ Mask collection, which first appeared in 2007 , is a series featuring 12 primitive art masks from private museums set in the center of the dial.